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Literary Analysis: The Old Man and the Sea

Literary Analysis: The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway’s novella, “The Old Man and the Sea” has one of the most simplistic plot structures of the literary world. But does this fact eliminate its eligibility as a piece of good literature? Quite the contrary, this novella is one of the most respected literary pieces ever written. This novel is written in a simple style which has a straightforward plot, very distinct descriptions, and few but delineated characters. This style actually enhances the reader’s understanding of the story in terms of the setting, characterization, and parts of plot structure.

A good example of how this style of writing can benefit the reader is the limited setting of the piece. A limited setting is a setting that does not jump variably within the piece. The whole plot of the story is fixed upon one specific place. In this case, it is Santiago, the main character, who the setting revolves around. In the whole story, every scene contains Santiago in a physical state. For example, on the first day, the storyline follows Santiago around the village. In this section of the story, we see Santiago conversing with the boy, and then we follow him to his home, where Hemingway leads us into Santiago’s dreams. This novel should be a tour through Santiago led by Hemingway. Throughout the rest of the book, we follow Santiago in his journey, and only he is involved. After the first day, throughout the voyage, it is Santiago’s thoughts and feelings that are emphasized. On the final day after his voyage, again we are led through all of Santiago’s actions. The limited setting is an important part of this simplistic Hemingway style as it eliminates unnecessary confusion in the reader’s mind. With this limited setting, Hemingway produces more ways to simplify this novel.

The delineate characterization in this novel creates well defined and well described characters. Good characterization is an aspect of a simple piece that can be easily derived from a limited setting. Since the plot focuses among one character only, Hemingway has many great opportunities to define the character in specific details through thought, and actions. For example, “If the others heard me talking out loud, they would think I am crazy. Since I am not crazy, I do not...

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